Patna. Dec 25: Archbishop of Patna,India, William D’Souza S.J has been an ace activist on ecology since 1996 when he gifted Tarumitra with ten acres of prime land in the metropolis to build the first ever Bio-reserve. Last year when the Copenhagen summit was on, the Archbishop wrote to all Churches and communities not to indulge in electric illumination for Christmas since “52 kilograms of coal produces one Unit of electricity.”
This year the Archbishop wrote a Pastoral letter to all the churches and communities of his archdiocese on the ecological concerns prior to the Christmas 2010. He urged all the people to stand up and take action especially on the conservation of electricity and water.
The letter is significant at a time the world leaders are finding it difficult to arrive at a consensus on the ecological front. “We need more Dharmagurus (spiritual heads) like the Archbishop to come and guide their flocks!” said the green architect, Joe Parekattil.
Archbishop William wrote, “In my 2009 Christmas message, published in the Archdiocesan Samachar, I had called your attention to this global concern. I had suggested to “spreading the message of saving our Earth and environment from pollution and carbon foot print by celebrating our Christmas with minimum amount of electrical illumination”. I congratulate all of you for positively responding to my suggestion within your capacity. At the same time, I wish to delve on the same subject in detail once again through this pastoral letter. This concern, my dear brothers and sisters, is very crucial, vital, urgent and alarmingly dangerous which needs our immediate attention.
The early Christian tradition reveals an eco-sensitive understanding of the mystery of Christ. St. Ireneus of Lyons said: “Christ recapitulates and summarizes all of creation.” Jesus was always a true Son of the Earth. He was the fulfillment of prophets like Isaiah who prayed “Let the earth be open to bud forth the savior (Isaiah: 45-8). St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ireneus and St. Benedict are some of the striking examples from among the early Fathers of the Church, who vehemently acclaimed the unity of creation. They could interpret Christian life as one that is integrally related to the earth and the environment. “The earth forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God’s Son.” (St. Hildegard of Bingen)
In the middle ages, we have St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), who had an integrated understanding of nature and God experience. He is known as the Saint of the Nature. He looks at the whole creation as one family. Every living creature is seen as his brother or sister. His eco-friendly life challenges the materialistic world of dominion and control which thus inspires us to live a life of friendship and harmony with nature. He insisted that his brothers leave a border around the community garden untouched so that wild grass and flowers could grow.
The erratic floods, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, irregular monsoons, etc. are indications that the rhythm of life in nature is seriously in danger.
Sadly, majority of us humans seems to be still unaware and unconcerned about the impending ecological havocs. Climate change due to global warming has affected the atmosphere and life so much so that earth is almost becoming inhabitable. The erratic floods, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, irregular monsoons, etc. are indications that the rhythm of life in nature is seriously in danger. Water and air and pollution, increase in the use of non-bio-degradable wastes such as plastic, etc. are making the earth and atmosphere unsuitable for living beings. Deforestation, use of harmful pesticides and manures for farming is another area which affects our eco-system and endangers human life. The greedy interventions affect rhythm of nature and tilt the eco-balance.
In short, we are stretching the nature beyond its regenerative capacity. We forget that the nature continues to react and we all head towards a collective suicide. One of the great scientists on ecology, Dr. Norman Myers observed that we have “just about 7,000 days left if we don’t change our way of living in this short span of time. We need to seriously look into the challenges this eco-crisis presents to us today.”
Therefore a concerted ecological action is crucial in our times. Our Patna Archdiocese has been in the forefront of pioneering apostolate. God has always bestowed on us innumerable blessings. Therefore with a sense of gratitude, all of us must strive to campaign for environment friendly living.
I suggest that we use water and electricity sparingly. We can save electricity by using candles and diyas instead of electric illumination for celebrations, Planting trees, use of eco-friendly gifts for our friends and families, using natural sherbets like lime juice, traveling as far as possible, by the public transport system, etc. are some of the means to reduce the crisis. We need to preserve and promote environment. We have to motivate, educate and organize farmers to take up organic farming. Let us learn from local tribal groups to live eco-friendly life. By organizing eco-friendly activities and motivational seminars for the people around us, young and old, women and children, we will be able to involve the whole community in our eco-friendly interventions.
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the salvific event of Jesus at Christmas, we have a special responsibility towards these concerns. Today God is savingly active all over the world, whispering into the hearts of people to stand up and take action to protect His planet. The incarnation of God’s Son is done on His planet with the matter and mud becoming His body and blood’ May the Word who took a human form and lived on this Earth, and thus sanctified the environment lead each one of us to love and respect our Mother Earth and give us the blessings to be eco-friendly in our day to day life.”
The media gave the Archbishop a wide coverage to his green initiatives. Many communities like Holy Family Hospital, St. Xavier’s College, XTTI etc dimmed down their Christmas illumination to the bare minimum. The Church in Phulwarisharif lit their whole church with solar electricity!